Guam – Over the years, Guam’s tourist industry relied almost exclusively on visitors from Japan and Korea. Now Guam is setting its sights on China, the worlds second largest economy with the worlds most outbound travelers. The Guam Visitors Bureau hopes an amended visa waiver program that’s currently sitting at Capital Hill gets passed so they can capture this new market.
The next great opportunity for Guam’s Tourism Industry is to tap into the booming Chinese market. On Tuesday members of the Guam Visitors Bureau along with experts from the China Travel Industry, Pacific Asia Travel Association and Continental Airlines announced that they will hold a symposium to educate local businesses about this new market. The China Outbound Travel Market Symposium will be held this thursday from 8AM to 2PM at the Hilton Guam resort.
This symposium is very timely because it comes at a time when the U.S. Congress are in the midst of debating the final rules for the Guam and CNMI’s immigration policy, which could possibly allow easing of travel review for people coming from mainland China to Guam.
GVB Deputy General Manager Ernie Galito says, “The word we hear from Capital Hill is there may be a favorable ruling, whether it be a full visa waiver program from Guam – CNM for a visa waiver program for China and the Russia Federation or Secretary Janet Napolitano may exercise her parole authority and grant Guam parole authority.
Since last November, the CNMI has been under parole authority and there were very low rejection rates for visitors coming from China through the Customs and border patrol. Galito says they are working on mechanical requirements for all Chinese visitors.
Chinese travelers are the largest outbound market in the world and China is only 3 1/2 hours away from Guam . Pacific Asia Travel Association Regional director Kate Chang says Chinese people like island destinations and believes Guam will be their next choice.
Chang says, “If you can see your neighbor like Saipan, there are more than 500,000 Chinese travels that visit the island each year. That island is only 40 minutes away from Guam. With the facilitation of securing easier visas, she believes that there will be more people interested in Guam.
Why is China so important to Guam? Because China’s economy now ranks number two in the world.
Galito says, “With China’s emerging middle class and as far as it’s upper class is concern they will have over 50 million travelers by the end of this year and this is a large opportunity for Guam
And what does this mean for Guam’s economy, on an average Chinese travelers spends between 1000. to 1500 per trip, that’s almost double of what the Japanese traveler spends on Guam. This symposium will focus on how to prepare Guam for Chinese visitors, what their expectations might be and how local businesses can accommodate them.